The Need for a New Approach: Creative Activism

In my last post I shared some history about the disability movement, questioned why disabled people are still marginalised in 2012, and explored language as a possible bridging tool in the search for equality.

In general I see myself as an individual who happens to have a disability. I set myself personal goals, define the barriers in my way (internal or external), and find solutions to overcome them. Once I have reached my goal I never dwell on the effort spent. I just enjoy the feeling and then move onto my next goal (some of my goals are crazy and some more simple, like maintaining health and seeing family). As a result others have not grasped the access issues, the bad attitudes towards my disability, the worry and my doubts; and it appears all too simple. Also because I bulldoze my way through barriers, others do not see how I have planned and executed certain strategies. One of these can be activism or campaigning.

One of the consequences of my last post was that I seemed to underestimate past and present activism. I cannot stress enough (and have mentioned this in the past) how grateful I am to Disability Rights Campaigners. Without their chaining themselves to buses, throwing paint at Parliament and general direct action in the 80’s; I would not have done half of the things I have in life. Seriously guys, thank you for this! Moreover I myself have attended marches/demonstrations, signed petitions, lobbied/consulted with government and challenged decisions relating to disabled people.

There has and always will be a place for traditional activism!

My sentiments are that our core message and language need to be unifying and not dividing. A problem that benefits all when solved will progress quicker. By engaging with the masses, social change will take place quicker.

When the softly softly approach doesn’t break through traditional thinking, I believe there is also a new type of activism we can look at. It is called Creative Activism. Rather than my trying to explain the definition, take a look at this protest art definition and Masta magazine, and you will get the gist.

With disability, if we take a core belief (disabled people should be equal), identify a specific barrier that should be removed (steps to public places), highlight this barrier creatively (photography), share it to the world (with social media), and collectively seek change; this will be hugely powerful.

You may want a deeper explanation or an example. You might just want me to shut up. However if you’re considering the merits of this approach and up for it; lets put it to the test!

I am looking for a group of people who have or would use Instagram (the phone photo app). Once I have a group of creative activists on board, we will head out and individually to snap 2 artistic pictures of ourselves in inaccessible places, link them with a hashtag on Twitter, and I will make these into limited edition canvass picture.

I cannot say what the result will be, but I am sure the general media, members of the public and even government will engage on the issues of public access for all (or lack of).

No negativity, no blame, no expectations, just fun!

With Creative Activism I think issues can be raised, fun can be had, people can be educated and change can occur.

If you want to participate email [email protected], comment below, tweet @martynsibley; with your name, the place you will photograph and why.


• You can read my last post on language/messaging here
• Stay tuned for #dconference2012 and Epic Euro Roadtrip updates next week
• Keep your eyes peeled on Disability Horizons next week for our mega coverage of the Paralympic games


One comment

  1. I love the idea. I like something you mentioned about internal and external limitations. I think it would also be a good idea to join in with people who are depressed or simply stuck- did you see AJ Leon’s new project? Creativity is a great way of fighting limitations in any dimension …

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